News

District hires stadium design consultant

Oak Harbor School Board approved the hiring of a design consultant to help put together the initial details for a new stadium located at Oak Harbor High School.

The consultant, Tacoma-based McGranahan Architects, was hired because of their experience constructing athletic facilities, said Gary Goltz, construction manager for the Oak Harbor School District.

“They’ve done more facilities like this than any other firm in the state,” Goltz said, noting the company designed recent stadiums in Arlington and Edmonds.

The school board approved a $27,600 contract for the architectural firm during its Monday evening meeting.

A committee comprised of school officials and community leaders unanimously recommended McGranahan before sending it to the board for approval. The firm was one of four companies competing for the contract, Goltz said.

Goltz said another reason the firm looked good is because it has a good track record of communicating with residents.

The school district wants to build a new track and field, grandstand and upgrade its baseball and soccer fields.

McGranahan’s work will also include developing uses for Memorial Stadium and the former site of North Whidbey Middle School.

In the coming months, McGranahan will hold community workshops, conduct a site analysis, develop cost estimates and construction alternatives for the stadium.

“I would expect to have more than one option for the board to review,” said Superintendent Rick Schulte.

That information would get the school district to a point where it could run a bond election.

The school district had to condemn and demolish the bleachers at Memorial Stadium last year. The condition of the athletic field prevented the football team from playing any post season games at home the last two seasons.

School district officials estimate that a new stadium package will cost approximately $5.5 million. Schulte said that amount could change as the details for the new facilities are ironed out.

The money would come from a fund-raising effort by the Noon Rotary Club and through a bond election.

During the board meeting, Schulte estimated that such a bond would cost taxpayers between 10 cents and 15 cents per $1,000 of assessed value on a home.

Schulte said that levy rate would be doable considering the average tax rate in the county has been falling.

According to information from the Island County Assessor’s Office, the composite tax rate for the county is $9.28 per $1,000 of assessed value on real property, a rate that fell 56 cents from last year. Evaluations, of course, have increased.

Schulte didn’t say when a stadium bond election would run.

However, the Rotary would like to see a ballot measure in November of 2005.

Jim Slowik, a Rotary member who spoke at the Monday evening meeting, said the organization still wants the stadium to run as a stand-alone ballot measure.

He said that is the best way to help ensure full community support for the stadium adding that it is a primary issue for the community.

However, several board members seemed wary of running a bond for the stadium without addressing the condition of the high school first.

“I can’t support doing the stadium before the high school,” said board member Kathy Chalfant.

Fellow board member Dave McCool had a similar concern.

“My only fear is that we put sports above education,” McCool said.

Kathy Jones also noted that the board had an obligation to the taxpayers to minimize construction costs.

The board, however, didn’t make any decision concerning a possible bond election. Schulte said it is still a point of further discussion for the school board.

You can reach News-Times reporter Nathan Whalen at nwhalen@whidbeynewstimes.com.

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